The Golden Compass

by Philip Pullman
Series: His Dark Materials #1
399 pages, Fantasy
Reviewed by Queen Lucy of Narnia

A book with poor morals, and not written from a Christian point of view


Note: This book was originally published in the U.K. under the title of "Northern Lights."

The main character is a girl named Lyra, who possesses, as all characters do in her world, a dæmon as her best friend; like everyone else, she is incapable of living if her dæmon is taken from her. One day, Lyra learns that her uncle is coming to the college where she lives. While he is there, she overhears a conversation about a substance known as Dust. After this, one of her best friends mysteriously disappears. Lyra must find him, but she is taken to London by a lady. Before she goes, she is given a Golden Compass; with it, she can see the truth. But then she sees that things are not always what they seem.

Lyra goes on a journey which she will never forget - looking for her missing friend, and even more important, looking for Dust. She meets many new friends, but also enemies: everything from witches to polar bears. It’s the beginning of a battle which involves the whole universe, and Lyra is the important part of it.


The morals in this book are pretty bad. Lyra, the main character, does lie and steal and rarely gets in trouble. At some points, she also spies. You don’t really see who the bad guys are, and nothing is at it seems. This book is not written from a Christian point at all. If it's possible to say something about good vs. evil in this book, it should be said that the bad ones probably are the Christians. So the morals are bad; the person whom you think is good, is evil in the next second.

Spiritual Content

This story is written by an atheist, and Christianity is put in a bad light. It’s never totally clear, but this is a story somehow based on the battle between Christians and Atheists. Lord Asriel, who is an important character, is fighting against the church. They don’t approve his experiments. Mrs. Coulter is probably a Christian, but not a good one. In this book, Christianity is only set in a bad light. There are witches in this story as well, but the use of magic is not described very well. There is also, as mentioned before, the concept of a person's dæmon.


A lot. There are some battles, and many people are killed. This is described pretty well by the author. There is also told that humans and their dæmon’s are being “cut” away from each other. As I’ve mentioned, in that world you can’t live without your dæmon. It’s described as a slow death, and it’s painful to read. Later, a character is killed on purpose. A lot of the violence is described well, which makes it even worse.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Many of the teachers in the College do smoke. It’s mentioned that Lord Asriel is given alcohol a bit later in the story, though it is never mentioned that he was drunk. The polar bear Iorek Byrnison is given alcohol; he falls asleep and then is captured. Each day he is given a bucket of alcohol which he drinks.

Sexual Content

There is a kiss at the end of the story. There is also a marriage which failed. Several of the witches do have a relationship with some men. It’s said that they were lovers.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

There are a couple of bad words in the book, used especially by Lord Asriel.


The story is well written, but can be a bit boring sometimes. There is a lot of violence and descriptions, which makes it "too much." It’s not written from a Christian point of view, which does show very clearly. This is definitely not a good book for children, and probably not for adults, either; the morals are poor, and it almost makes fun of Christianity. I would never recommend this book to anyone.

Fun Score: 3.5
Values Score: 0
Written for Age: 13+

Review Rating:

Average rating: 5 stars
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